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Kachina Doll (Angwusnasomtaqa [Crow Mother])

Arts of the Americas

In the southwestern United States, a supernatural being that represents a life-force or embodies a natural phenomenon such as the sun, the moon, a plant, or an animal is called a koko by the Zuni and a katsina (commonly anglicized as “kachina”) by the Hopi. Such beings have the power to control rainfall, crop growth, and fertility; to cure and protect; and to act as messengers between the gods and human beings. Carved kachina figures, also known as kachina dolls, are representations of these spirits and can have a sacred or an educational purpose. During some ceremonies, the carvings are given to community members to reward virtuous behavior, recognize a recent marriage, or teach children about religion. In the 1800s, a lively market for the carvings developed among non-Native collectors and tourists, giving rise to the elaborate art form that flourishes today.
CULTURE Pueblo, Hopi
MEDIUM Cottonwood root, acrylic paint, feathers, fur, hide, synthetic wool and yarn, painted canvas
  • Possible Place Made: Third Mesa, Arizona, United States
  • DATES 1960–1970
    DIMENSIONS 15 × 9 × 4 1/2 in. (38.1 × 22.9 × 11.4 cm)  (show scale)
    SIGNATURE On base : Angwysnasomtaka kachina Crow Mother kachina , (artist) Seona and crossed mark below the name
    COLLECTIONS Arts of the Americas
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Edith and Hershel Samuels
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION Crow Mother (Angwusnasomtaqa) kachina doll. Female figure carved from one piece of cottonwood root she leans slightly forward and holds both arms out carrying a bundle of sticks. Her headdress is large and dramatic with rayed feathers on either side of a bright blue helmet style mask with slender blue horns. The front of the mask has a large upside down, black triangle with a smaller one under it. Across the top and down the sides of the mask is a braided yellow and red yarn. There is a fur ruff around her neck. She wears a long dress made from cotton and trimmed with red and green yarn with a white braided yarn sash. She has a white, canvas mantle around her back and wears carved white boots. Crow Mother performs many roles and functions. She participates in the initiation blessings of children 10 - 15 years old, guides the whipper (punishment) Kachinas who are considered to be her children. Aggressive in temperament she is very active insuring that she will get attention and that her messages about the importance of the Kachina culture will be heard by the initiates. She appears during the Powamuya- purification ceremonies in February. Note the Kachina is portrayed by a man.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Seona. Kachina Doll (Angwusnasomtaqa [Crow Mother]), 1960–1970. Cottonwood root, acrylic paint, feathers, fur, hide, synthetic wool and yarn, painted canvas, 15 × 9 × 4 1/2 in. (38.1 × 22.9 × 11.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Edith and Hershel Samuels, 2010.6.2. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2010.6.2_front_PS2.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 2010.6.2_front_PS2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2009
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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